Monday, August 24, 2009

2009 Preview - West Texas A&M

2008 Recap
After an opening game scare at Mesa State (23-20), West Texas A&M kicked it into gear, winning their next 6 games by an average margin of 31, and with no team within 20 points. That set up a showdown between #4 WT and #3 ACU. The Wildcats jumped out to a 31-7 halftime lead and held off the Buffs 52-35. WT got to within 10 points twice, but ACU answered with TDs each time. WT quickly put that game behind them, winning their final three LSC games by a 137-9 margin, shutting out Angelo State and Tarleton State in the process. That set up a rematch with ACU. Conventional wisdom was for a high scoring blowout, but that doesn't come close to describing what happened on that November afternoon. The teams combined for 1,531 yards of offense and 161 points. West Texas A&M's were outstanding - 721 total yards, 595 yards passing, 7.7 yards per play and 63 points. ACU's were unbelievable - 810 yards, 14.5 yards per play, and 93 points. Not the way the Buffalo faithful wanted their season to end.

Offensively, it was more of the same for WT - a high scoring, passing-dominated offense. The Buffs finished second in the LSC in points scored (48.2 per game) and yards gained (544.5 per game). WT easily led the LSC in passing yardage, with Keith Null setting several LSC records enroute to 5,097 yds and 48 TDs passing. His top target was Charly Martin, another LSC record setter, who caught 95 passes for 1,867 yds and 22 TDs. Carl Johnson (73-925 9 TDs), Seth Hayden (66-832 6 TDs), and Anthony Clark (38-486 4 TDs) were also busy targets. The team only finished 6th in rushing yards (116.5 per game) but were third with a 4.2 per carry average. Keithon Flemming led the Buffs with 756 yards, despite missing a couple of games with injuries, and not being 100% for a good portion of the season.

Defensively, WT finished the season 9th in points allowed (26.4) and 7th in yards allowed (353.8). Those numbers are skewed by the two ACU games - take them out and WT only allowed 18 points per game and 282 yards. The run defense was 10th, allowing 128.7 yards per game (85.9 w/o ACU), and the pass defense was 4th, giving up 225.2 (196.2 w/o ACU). The team finished third in the LSC in sacks, 5th in red zone defense, 7th in Ints and 8th in third down conversions.

2009 Outlook
Out with the old
QB Keith Null - 2nd in LSC career passing yards, TDs (9,769 and 92) despite only two years as starter, single season leader in yardage (5,097) and TDs (48), and single game marks for yards (595) and TDs (7)
WR Charly Martin - All-time LSC leader in receptions (244), yards (4,108) and TDs (45), also holds single season records (95-1,867 22 TDs) and single game yardage (323) and TDs (5)
RB/KR Wayne McKnight - 1,281 all purpose yards, 14 TDs, 2nd LSC South
WR Seth Hayden - 66-832 6 TDs, 2nd LSC South
WR Anthony Clark - 38-486 4 TDs
TE Carl Johnson - 73-925 9 TDs HM LSC South
OL Devario Dorsey - 2nd LSC South
OL Tommy Crowley - 2nd LSC South
DT TJ Nickelberry - 21 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 2 sack, HM LSC South
DE Brandon Swain - 27 tackles, 7 TFL, 3.5 sacks, HM LSC South
LB Jared Brock - 83 tackles, 14 TFL, 6.5 sacks, 1st LSC South, All American
LB Eldon Grimslid - 63 tackles, 9 TFL, 1 sack 2nd LSC South
DB Bralon Davis - 2 Ints, 5 passes BU, 1st LSC South
DB Darnell Johnson - 6 Ints, 7 passes BU, 1st LSC South

Welcome Back
RB Keithon Flemming - 756 yds, 13 TDs rushing, 39-341 1 TD receiving
RB Kelvin Thompson - 226 yds, 4 TDs rushing
WR A J Ruffins - 20-163 4 TDs
OL J'Marcus Webb - 1st LSC South, All American
OL Jon Ione
OL Brad McCarty
DT Broderick Marshall - 28 tackles, 7 TFL, 1 sack, 1st LSC South
DE Eugene Sims - 56 tackles, 13 TFL, 10 sacks, 2nd LSC South
LB Mark Ford - 34 tackles, 4.5 TFL
LB Anthony Scott - 47 tackles, 6.5 TFL, 1 sack
DB Curtis Jefferson - 50 tackles, 1 Int, 6 passes BU 2nd LSC South
DB Tae Evans - 15 tackles, 1 Int, 4 passes BU
K James Chandler - 8-13 FG, 77-79 PAT, 101 points

In with the new
WR Stephen Burton
WR Anthony Burrell
TE Dalton Etimani
OL Isaiah Lewis
DL Jerry Miller
LB Bryan Braman
DB Shad Baichtal
DB Chuck Roberts
DB Lawrence Hood

All Conference Candidates
QB Taylor Harris
RB Keithon Flemming
WR A J Ruffins
OL J'Marcus Webb
OL Dan Sherwood
DL Eugene Sims
DL Broderick Marshall
DB Curtis Jefferson

All American Candidates
RB Keithon Flemming
OL J'Marcus Webb
DL Broderick Marshall

Big Games
Aug. 29 #1 Grand Valley
Sep 5 Central Oklahoma
Sep 12 @ Central Washington
Sep 26 Texas A&M-Kingsville
Oct 3 @ Midwestern State
Oct 10 Eastern New Mexico (Wagon Wheel)
Oct 17 @ Abilene Chrisitian
Nov 7 @ Tarleton State

Best Case Scenario
10-1 The Buffs will need several things to fall into place: Taylor Harris to pick up where Keith Null and Dalton Bell left off, a full and speedy recovery by Keithon Flemming, solid play from the receivers, and overall improvement from the defense against the top teams. The talent is there for another LSC title, but WT will need some good fortune.

Worst Case Scenario
6-5 This is potentially the toughest regular season schedule of any D2 football team in the nation. Not only did WT lose some stellar athletes, they lost a ton of leadership. If Harris merely proves to be good instead of outstanding, if Flemming doesn't quickly rebound and the receivers are not up to recent standards, a burden falls on the defense. And that defense will be going up against some of the best offenses in the nation, so help might not be there.

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Lone Star Conference

Angelo State University

Cameron University

Eastern New Mexico University

Texas A&M-Commerce

Tarleton State University

Texas A&M-Kingsville

Texas Woman's College

University of Texas of the Permian Basin

West Texas A&M University

Western New Mexico